by Michael J. Shapiro | April 25, 2018
Just as Airbnb made a concerted effort last week to work with planners by launching Airbnb for Events, Marriott International is now expanding its interests into the sharing economy. The hospitality giant kicked off a six-month home-sharing pilot this week in collaboration with Hostmaker, a London-based home-rental management company. 
 
Marriott has some history with Hostmaker: The latter was one of the finalists in a Travel Experience Incubator program that Marriott launched last year, together with Accenture and a global incubator and startup network called 1776. Hostmaker provides all of the services homeowners might need to rent their homes on sites such as Airbnb, such as description development, property photos, and cleaning and guest services. The company also consults on the best design for home rentals and helps review pricing. 
 
Hostmaker currently operates in seven European cities, but its pilot program with Marriott will be restricted to London. The two companies will work together to select properties based on certain design standards, and ensure those properties comply with short-term rental laws. Approximately 200 properties will be chosen as part of the Tribute Portfolio Homes brand -- a spinoff of the Tribute Portfolio of independent hotels, which is under the Marriott umbrella. 
 
"The short-term rental industry faces two fundamental issues," said a Marriott spokesperson, "products with little quality or brand assurance, and a lack of truly professional property management that ensures rentals have been vetted to meet specific standards and comply with local laws." By collaborating with Hostmaker, Marriott aims to provide that quality control -- as well as 24/7 support to guests and an in-person welcome and check-in experience.
 
The Tribute Portfolio Homes, in turn, gain access to the Marriott International network. The properties can be booked on TributePortfolioHomes.com or via direct links from Marriott.com or Startwoodhotels.com. Loyalty members will earn points for their stays at these properties, and as of May, they will also be able to redeem points to book a Tribute Portfolio Homes property. All of these properties will be entire homes with at least one bedroom, a full kitchen and an on-site laundry. 
 
While the booking process is similar to a hotel, some of the policies differ: Customers must pay at the time of booking, but they can receive a 100 percent refund if the cancelled reservation comes within 48 hours after booking and at least 30 days prior to the check-in date. A 50 percent refund is granted if the reservation is canceled seven or more days before the check-in date; cancellations less than seven days in advance of arrival will not be granted refunds.
 
"The pilot is aimed at making sure that Marriott provides our guests the best possible experience for all their various travel needs," said the spokesperson. "This latest offering will be complementary to our current portfolio of accommodations. We understand that our guests -- at times -- might need a little more room and some of the amenities of home while traveling with family or in groups -- and Tribute Portfolio Homes will have options designed to meet those needs."
 
Marriott currently isn't sharing details about making Tribute Portfolio Homes part of Marriott room blocks or corporate contracts, but does plan to explore opportunities with its corporate partners during the pilot period.